* Managing director says ready to be consolidator
* Made offer for Tele Columbus' Berlin assets
* Also made offer for Deutsche Telekabel
By Arno Schuetze
FRANKFURT, Oct 23 Primacom, Germany's
fourth-largest cable operator, wants an active role in the
market's consolidation, its managing director said, and has
already made bids for certain assets of Tele Columbus
and for Deutsche Telekabel.
"We are hunters not hunted. We are ready to be a
consolidator", Wolf Waschkuhn, managing director and supervisory
board member of Primacom told Reuters. "We have put in bids for
the Berlin assets of Tele Columbus and for Deutsche Telekabel."
The German cable market was once one of Europe's most
fragmented, with a proliferation of smaller regional players
offering television and broadband services.
But companies like Kabel Deutschland and
Unitymedia restructured it by buying smaller companies, before
being bought up by multinationals themselves.
Cable companies have become hot assets as their cable lines,
designed to deliver TV to homes, have been upgraded to carry
voice calls and Internet at speeds often five times faster than
competing services from telecom operators and they have been
snatching customers from them.
Last week, Vodafone completed the 7.7 billion euro
($10 billion) takeover of Germany's largest cable company Kabel
In 2011, Liberty Global purchased Unitymedia for
3.5 billion euros and two years later KabelBW for
3.2 billion euros. The latter deal is in doubt after a German
court in August reversed an antitrust approval.
Kabel Deutschland earlier this year walked away from buying
Tele Columbus for about 618 million euros after Germany's
competition watchdog blocked the deal.
Tele Columbus, which is owned by several hedge funds
including York Capital, Anchorage and GoldenTree following a
financial restructuring, is one of the few assets left.
It has attracted interest from private equity groups CVC
and Cinven, which are offering to buy Tele
Columbus in a potential deal valuing the company's equity and
debt at roughly 600 million euros, two people familiar with the
Tele Columbus still has 570 million euros in net debt, one
of the sources said.
The CVC and Cinven also earlier this month handed in bids
for much smaller Deutsche Telekabel, which could be valued at up
to 150 million euros, the sources said.
Primacom's Waschkuhn sees his group - which emerged from a
financial restructuring itself and is now profitable again - as
more attractive as a potential partner.
"In contrast to financial sponsors we can act as a strategic
partner and reap synergies (from a potential acquisition)." He
said he has backing from the group's owners - Alcentra, Avenue
Capital, Tennenbaum Capital and ING - for a potential
In Primacom's view, the Tele Columbus' eastern German assets
are highly profitable, accounting for two thirds of Tele
Columbus' earnings, while the western German assets are seen as
far less attractive.
According to a source familiar with the negotiations,
Primacom is also considering the purchase of all of Tele
Columbus, if its price expectations are met.
Tele Columbus supplies 2 million households in Germany with
TV, internet and telephone services, while Primacom supplies 1
million and Deutsche Telekabel 270.000 households.
Tele Columbus, Deutsche Telekabel, CVC, Cinven and York and
Anchorage declined to comment, while GoldenTree was not
immediately available for comment.
Rothschild, which is advising Tele Columbus as well as
Goetzpartners, which is advising Deutsche Telekabel, also
declined to comment.